Sunday, July 21, 2013

Five Quotes on Families

Many of the grand structures of the world are the large stone and brick buildings left to us by ancestors that lived hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago. The Garni Temple in Armenia, the pyramids of Egypt, the castles and cathedrals of Europe and the palace at Palenque are just a few examples of constructions that have stood through hundreds of years of harsh weather, fierce warfare and other forces that have brought the demise of those around them.

In each case, these buildings are planned and constructed around a single stone known as the foundation stone or chief cornerstone. The foundation stone is usually not visible to those admiring magnificent ancient structures, but it is the first stone laid and the most important for the strength of the building.

Families are the chief cornerstones of our societies. It is through families, centered on marriage, that rising generations learn the value of freedom, love, discipline, tolerance, rights, responsibilities and human worth. In families we are introduced to God, have our first experiences with other people and begin to experience truth in action. When marriages and families break down, communities are weakened, governments become less effective and societies face a growing risk of collapse.

For many of the same reasons, families are also at the center of God's plan for us and each of our eternal destinies. We lived with our heavenly family before this life, we are born into families on Earth, and God allows us to live with our earthly families throughout eternity if we enter into sacred covenants such as marriage and keep His commandments. If we construct our lives around the covenants and values that unite our families they can be a great and enduring strength to us.

What follows are five quotes from modern-day prophets to help us all as we attempt to build and strengthen our families and all they support. Each of these quotes are included in Elder L. Tom Perry's book, Family Ties: A Message for Fathers.

The first quote on families comes from President Spencer W. Kimball, who shared with us the recipe for success in married life:

The formula is simple; the ingredients are few, though there are many amplifications of each.

First, there must be the proper approach toward marriage, which contemplates the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection in all the matters that are of importance to the individuals. Then those two parties must come to the altar in the temple realizing that they must work hard toward this successful joint living.

Second, there must be great unselfishness, forgetting self and directing all of the family life and all pertaining thereunto to the good of the family, and subjugating self.

Third, there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness and consideration to keep love alive and growing.

Fourth, there must be complete living of the commandments of the Lord as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Speaking to men, Elder L. Tom Perry taught that too many marriages suffer from unrighteous leadership. Reminding us all that the Lord's way is the way of persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love, he taught:

Your wife is your companion, your best friend, your full partner. The Lord has blessed her with great potential, talent, and ability. She, too, must be given the opportunity for self-expression and development. Her happiness should be your greatest concern. Learn how to magnify both your roles in order that both husband and wife can be found having fulfilling and happy lives together. Brethren, your first and most responsible role in life and in the eternities is to be a righteous husband.

Brigham Young added:

Our families are not yet ours. The Lord has committed them to us to see how we will treat them. Only if we are faithful will they be given to us forever. What we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.

If we will do these things-- be selfless and kind, respect and honor our spouses and live the gospel-- we can have healthy marriages and experience the strength and joy that can come from living in family units. We will be able to contribute to successful communities and prosperous or
ganizations of all kinds-- and those organizations will, in turn, be able to reinforce our families. Again from President Kimball:

Our success, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home. Only as we see clearly the responsibilities of each individual and the role of families and homes can we properly understand that priesthood quorums and auxiliary organizations, even wards and stakes, exist primarily to help members live the gospel in the home. Then we can understand that people are more important than programs, and that Church programs should always support and never detract from gospel-centered family activities...

All should work together to make home a place where we love to be, a place of listening and learning, a place where each member can find mutual love, support, appreciation, and encouragement.

I repeat that our success, individually and as a Church, will largely [depend on] how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home.

Finally, as we make family a priority in our lives and learn from our experiences there, Brigham Young has taught that we will have a model for righteous leadership that extends to other leadership opportunities that we may encounter.

The Priesthood... is [the] perfect order and system of government, and this alone can deliver the human family from all the evils which now afflict its members, and insure them happiness and felicity hereafter.

Remnants of ancient civilizations that lost track of families are all around us. It is not enough to build buildings that will last through the ages; we must ensure that our lives are built upon the foundation stone the Lord has provided so that we may also stand in the magnificence and grace of God through the eternities ahead.